My mother didn’t cook Mexican food. In our home, a taco represented the ultimate in Mexican cuisine. As a child, I eagerly anticipated the enchiladas, rice and beans our school served on Wednesdays. That habit of weekly Mexican food became ingrained, and I find I must prepare something with hot sauce and refried beans on a weekly basis. Or we head over to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants for “the real thing.”
The tacos of my childhood gave way to chalupas after I got married since my husband prefers them. The narrow confines of a taco shell, which usually break when I try to stuff them with ingredients, frustrated me. I converted easily to the flat, easy-to-stack-layers-upon, chalupa shell.
Over the years, I’ve become a pro at dropping corn tortillas into hot oil without injury. I can cook up ground beef with an assortment of spices to make my mouth water. I can grate cheese effortlessly and efficiently into a six inch mound. I can even make guacamole like an expert.
I line up all of the ingredients, once ready, into an assembly line that would make Ford envious. Usually, I position two crisp shells upon my plate, slather on a layer of refried beans to glue my meat into place. After I sprinkle the beef onto the shells, I pile on lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, cheese and hot sauce. Sometimes my creations rise several inches above my plate.
One day, I balanced two chalupas on a plate in one hand and a nice ice cold glass of milk in the other. I carefully approached the dining room table and set the milk down first. Then, my plate angled just the tiniest bit, and one of my mountainous chalupas slipped and dropped onto the carpet.
Now, you’d imagine that with all of life’s trials, I wouldn’t remember the demise of one perfect chalupa; but I do. For some odd reason, that slip and slide—which replays in slow motion now—signaled the beginning of a loss of control within my life. This isn’t a bad thing since I tend to over manage everything. The evening I dropped my chalupa on the carpet, I laugh so hard I almost joined it on the floor.
Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman